Improving Health, Improves Recovery
Physical Fitness and Addiction Recovery from Alcohol and Drug Addiction needs a balanced approach of the will, mind and body. The whole individual is injured in mind, body and spirit. Hence, the recovery of the whole person also involves the mind, body and spirit. One cannot function independently of the other. The mind, body and spirit are interconnected at any time.
Many recovery programs advocate support groups, spiritual development and counseling. These are excellent interventions to deal with the mind and the spirit, but what about the body. What is the role of physical fitness and well being in a healthy recovery program? Does a recovering individual lead a quality life if he is physically sick? Can he honestly boast about having ten years of sobriety even when he smokes cigarettes, is 40 pounds overweight and is suffering from diabetes and heart disease?
Measures Taken Before Physical Fitness
Before embarking upon the physical component of any recovery program, it is absolutely imperative that the recovering individual obtain an accurate and comprehensive assessment of his current health status.
Some key questions that need to be addressed are:
• Is the individual capable and willing to begin a fitness program?
• What are the physical limitations of the individual?
• What is the ultimate goal for the individual’s recovery? ( To walk, to play the piano, to return to work)
• Which health professionals can help with the physical component of the recovery process?
The Four Key Components in Determining a Fitness Program are:
• Current Health Status
• Realistic Long Term Goals (e.g. Quit smoking, maintain ideal body weight, normalize blood sugar etc.)
• Incremental Short term Goals (Focusing on making small improvements day in and day out will allow you to reach your goals more quickly, easily and with less stress than any other method.)
• Utilize a Variety of Health Professionals (e.g. Medical Care, Chiropractic Care, Massage Therapy, Physical Therapy, Acupuncture, Naturopathy etc.)
What is the best physical exercise to help a person recovering from Alcohol and Drug addiction?
There is probably not one single activity or exercise that can cover all the bases. In order to develop an individualized fitness program, a fitness professional will consider the five components of fitness.
The generally accepted five components of fitness are:
1. Cardio-vascular endurance: (e.g. swimming, biking or running)
2. Muscular strength: (e.g. lifting weights or performing resistance exercises)
3. Muscular endurance (e.g. cardio-vascular activities such as walking, jogging, bicycling, or dancing)
4. Body composition: (Refers to the relative amount of muscle and fat in a person’s body. A person’s total body weight may not change over time — but the bathroom scale does not assess how much of that body weight is fat and how much is lean mass)
5. Flexibility: (The range of motion allowed by a joint and its surrounding musculature. Good flexibility in the joints can help prevent injuries through all stages of life. If you want to improve your flexibility, try activities that lengthen the muscles such as Yoga, Pilates or a basic stretching program)
The program may not include all five fitness components due to physical limitations and considerations. However, a good fitness program will allow the individual to move forward and gain strength in his overall recovery. Getting started and moving forward are far more important than satisfying the requirements of a text book or an insurance company.
I strongly believe that the physical view of recovery from addiction is often minimized or ignored. It is a great accomplishment to stay clean and sober for at all time. However, a healthy addiction recovery is a balance of the mind, body and spirit. Let’s go forward and get a hgalthy life with the balanced recovery program.